Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Post 2: Traditional Medicine

I grew up in Ukraine, a post-Soviet country that is somewhat backward when compared to other European countries. There I spent a lot of time with my grandparents who, like a lot of  Ukrainians, were strong believers in traditional medicine. As a kid I was exposed to these medicines and at the time I thought of them as quite reasonable. Even if I didn't see any possible logic behind it, the credibility of my grandparents and their ancestors was convincing. Now, as I look back at these remedies/treatments I find myself laughing at how silly and absurd some of them seem. Since most of the traditional medicines are based on harmless herbs/vegetables, they are not as dangerous as cancer quackery (discussed in my previous post), it is still important that people are conscious about this topic and choose their treatments wisely, especially if they are afflicted with a serious condition.

It is also important to note that these medications have been adopted after many years of experience by its users. Sometimes, due to these traditional medications, scientists find real medicinal compounds in the various herbs/remedies used.

I vaguely remember a few of the remedies my grandparents used for common illnesses, seeing as it is somewhat related to this course I thought I would share them. A "treatment" for a typical cold was a glass of vodka with 2 spoonfuls of black pepper. When parts of a body were in pain, a crushed cabbage leaf was often applied to the affected area as it had "natural healing abilities". Iodine solution was applied to joints affected by arthritis. The stings of the stinging nettle plant, along with bee stings were considered good for overall health. While in a sauna, hitting oneself with dried oak leaves was thought to improve circulation and help with skin health.

Often religion was incorporated into traditional medicine. The effects of holy water on ones health were praised by my grandaunt. Also, she would often attribute me getting sick for not wearing a cross around my neck. Lastly, there is a common celebration for Orthodox Epiphany (in January) where people go swimming in ice water, some believe it is good for health and you cannot get sick doing this. (might actually be healthy as it reduces stress according to a study)

These are just some traditional medicines that I remember seeing as a kid. They might have varied from community to community. In case of a serious illness, conventional medicine was preferred.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Daniel,

    Great post! I could really relate to what you wrote because my parents brought over many traditions and medicinal beliefs that they used growing up in Asia. I agree that it does vary from community to community because when we have a common cold, we used a mediation similar to vapor rub, but its called "Tiger Balm". This is now sold in many pharmacy now but this has been used in Asian culture to heal just about everything. Instead of drinking vodka with black pepper, we would have a variety of bitter tea that would be ingested to help fight colds. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your post and thought it was very interesting to see how various remedies are use throughout different cultures